One in ten Britons could end up in hospital with coronavirus, warns NHS as Red Cross workers are drafted in to help and plans emerge for a Hyde Park morgue in worst-case scenario
- The 20th case marks the first patient to have caught the infection on British soil
- NHS officials who are drawing up a ‘battle plan’ to tackle the deadly outbreak
- Under new guidelines, military doctors and nurses will be drafted into help
- Nickie Aiken MP confirmed Hyde Park has emergency plans to store corpses
One in ten Britons could end up in hospital with coronavirus according to NHS officials who are drawing up a ‘battle plan’ to tackle the deadly outbreak.
Britain’s 20th coronavirus case has tonight been confirmed – after a British man who was on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship died in Japan earlier today.
The latest case is the first time a patient has caught the infection on British soil, marking a ‘new chapter’ in the country’s spiralling health crisis.
One in ten Britons could end up in hospital with coronavirus according to NHS officials who are drawing up a ‘battle plan’ to tackle the deadly outbreak. Pictured: A woman wearing a face mask on a London bus
Britain’s 20th coronavirus case has tonight been confirmed – after a British man who was on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship died in Japan earlier today. Pictured: A woman wearing a face mask on a London bus
The latest case is the first time a patient has caught the infection on British soil, marking a ‘new chapter’ in the country’s spiralling health crisis. Pictured: A bus passenger wears a protective mask
Under emergency guidelines – to be published next week – British Red Cross and St John Ambulance workers as well as military doctors and nurses will be brought in to help a struggling NHS, The Guardian reports.
Procedures to dispose of corpses would be sped up in a desperate move that would save thousands of lives.
Nickie Aiken, Conservative MP for the Cities of London and Westminster, confirmed that London’s Hyde Park would be turned into a morgue if the killer outbreak continues to escalate.
London’s Hyde Park (pictured) would be turned into a morgue if the killer coronavirus outbreak escalates in the UK, under worst-case scenario plans
The UK’s 20th coronavirus patient has been confirmed, marking the first case to have caught the infection on British soil
A British man who was on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship (pictured in Yokohama) has died after being infected with coronavirus, Japanese authorities confirmed today. He was the first Briton to die in the crisis
A massive 70 per cent of Britons could catch the killer bug and 15 per cent of those may be hospitalized, The Daily Telegraph reports.
Health Minister Helen Whately said it was ‘likely’ more people in the UK would contract coronavirus and that plans were in place should it become a pandemic.
The Conservative MP told BBC Newsnight: ‘I can’t reiterate enough that we are well prepared but we do have to recognise that it is likely we will see more cases in the UK.
‘We have plans in place and have carried out exercises so in the event of something like a flu pandemic, we are ready.
‘And those plans have been continuously updated ever since the outbreak in China of the coronavirus.’
Switzerland bans all events involving more than 1,000 people
Switzerland has today banned all events involving more than 1,000 people in a drastic bid to stop the spread of coronavirus.
The Swiss government announced the emergency measure today and said it will last until at least March 15.
Officials say the ban on ‘public and private events’ is intended to ‘prevent or delay the spread of the disease in Switzerland, thus reducing its momentum’.
The move will affect events including concerts, the Basel Carnival, the Geneva Motor Show and matches in the Swiss Football League.
Switzerland has already confirmed 15 cases of the virus, and officials expect the outbreak to get worse because of the crisis over the border in northern Italy.
The Swiss ban on ‘large-scale events involving more than 1,000 people’ will take effect immediately.
‘In the case of public or private events at which fewer than 1,000 people would gather, event organisers must carry out a risk assessment in conjunction with the competent [regional] authorities to decide whether or not the event can be held,’ authorities said.
Health minister Alain Berset said that similar measures had proved ‘effective’ in other countries.
The government said it was ‘aware that this measure will have a significant impact on public life in Switzerland’ but added that ‘it should prevent or delay the spread of the disease, thus reducing its momentum’.
The health minister told reporters that the number of cases in Switzerland was ‘not a surprise for us’, adding: ‘We have to expect an increase in cases in the next few days’.
The measure will affect the annual Geneva Motor Show, which was due to take place from March 5-15 and draws tens of thousands of visitors every year.
Football fixtures are also affected. The five teams due to play at home this weekend all had more than 1,000 spectators in their last home games. The matches have now been postponed.
Taking a different approach, the national Swiss hockey league said all games this weekend will be played in front of empty stadiums.
The traditional Carnival procession in Basel will also have to be called off.
Asked whether that meant mass gatherings could be banned and schools closed, such as in parts of Italy, she said such measures were ‘being considered’.
‘Clearly, how to deal with those sorts of things absolutely has been considered and is being considered. That is rightly all part of the planning,’ she added.
But Ms Whatley said there was still ‘very clear guidance’ that ‘schools should not be, in general, planning to close’.
Ms Whately said thoroughly washing hands and coughing or sneezing into a tissue before disposing of it remained the best way of limiting the spread of coronavirus.
Asked about the increasing use of face masks, she told the BBC: ‘The advice I have been given is that members of the public are not particularly recommended to use face masks.
‘They may be used by clinicians but actually they are not something that is recommended for the general public.
‘The important thing is the handwashing advice and the use of tissues.’
Ms Aiken said Britain would be the best country to be in should the coronavirus outbreak become a pandemic because ‘we are so on it for contingency planning’.
England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty revealed an unprecedented ban on large public gatherings could be required to fight a global pandemic.
The latest confirmed case, a patient from Surrey, is understood to be a man who was treated at Haslemere Health Centre before being transferred to Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospital in London.
He contracted the illness in England from an unknown spreader – who authorities are racing to track down to avoid them contaminating more people.
It is not known whether this spreader had arrived in the country from abroad, where many countries including Italy, South Korea, Japan and Iran are firefighting major outbreaks.
Tonight’s 20th confirmed diagnosis came after a flurry of cases sprouted up in the UK within 24 hours, including in Northern Ireland and Wales.
One of these cases is also believed to be from Surrey, having flown to the UK from virus-hit Milan, putting the southern county at the heart of Britain’s growing outbreak.
Haslemere Health Centre was closed on Friday, with a statement on its website saying: ‘The surgery is temporarily closed today to enable a clean of the surgery as a routine precautionary measure.’
Nobody in the UK has so far died from coronavirus, but today a British man quarantined aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship passed away in Japan. This first British fatality is understood to be a man in his 70s who did not live in the UK.
Boris Johnson today broke his silence on the global health crisis and insisted preventing a major British outbreak was the government’s ‘top priority’.
After being branded a ‘part-time prime minister’ for his slow response, he reassured the public that he had held meetings with the health secretary and chief medical officer, who tonight broke the news of the country’s 20th case.
The most extreme measure to combat the outbreak could be to mirror the decision to shut Japan’s entire school system, which will close from Monday for a month until April.
A UK shutdown would see millions of parents, including key workers such as surgeons, nurses and paramedics, forced to stay at home to care for their children.
A bus carrying passengers from the Diamond Princess – in this case passengers who were about to be flown home by the Israeli government – drives away from the cruise ship in Yokohama last week
Prof Whitty admitted it is ‘just a matter of time’ until coronavirus spreads more widely and quicker through the UK – and the fightback could include ‘reducing mass gatherings and school closures’, with Premier League and FA Cup matches either under threat or played behind closed doors.
The London Marathon and the Grand National in April could also be at risk because of the large number of spectators – and this summer’s Euro 2020 tournament, which is being played in cities across the continent including London, Glasgow and Rome – the capital of coronavirus-hit Italy – is under review.
Theatre performances, gigs and music festivals such as Glastonbury could also be banned or pared back if the UK fails to get a grip on the crisis.
At the Tenerife hotel at the centre of a coronavirus outbreak, 50 of the 168 British guests were allowed to leave last night before their two-week quarantine was completed sparking fears they could bring the disease home with them. Jet2 is refusing to fly them home until mid-March.
Schools including Trinity Catholic College in Middlesbrough (pictured) are already shut after pupils returned from ski trips to Northern Italy
The NHS has said it is well prepared for the growing threat but senior doctors have admitted that they could have to ration care and focus on those most likely to survive and former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: ‘The NHS would find it hard to cope if the pandemic took off’.
Under protocol dubbed ‘Three Wise Men’, a hospital’s most senior consultants would meet daily and decide which patients would get beds and ventilators based on those most likely to recover. It means that vulnerable people such as the elderly and already seriously ill would be given less priority than younger and healthier patients.
The crisis has rocked world financial markets and London’s FTSE100, which immediately dropped three per cent when it opened yesterday having had £200billion wiped off its value this week taking it to a low level last seen in the 2008 financial crash. Today Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said the economy has already been hit and growth could be downgraded.